t’s interesting (in a bittersweet way) to see how things change.
For some reason, this morning while getting ready for my bike ride in, I thought of World War One aviation. I think it was in response to the ideal of dawn patrol, of an early morning moment of getting ready for going somewhere few souls would dare traverse, kitting up, checking the crate, sniffing the wind, eyeing the sky. Yeah, it’s only a bike, but I’m a romantic.
It got me thinking to a book I’d read over and over as a kid, Goshawk Squadron, by Derrick Robertson. Needless to say, I’ll review that one sometime so there’s no point of doing it here. But it was a great book, a folly of youth forced to grow up into killers, of steel-gray skies and German offences and Pfalz fighters snarling about. All this came from a childhood reading everything the library had about WW1 planes. I remember reading The Unfeeling Sky series (Peter Saxon, I think was the author). And everything from Arch Whitehouse. In those long slow summers, my friends and I would play Richthofen’s War and Fight for the Skies. Oh, and Dogfight, with the plastic planes and the cards – fun. But the big take away was reading, reading, reading everything I could on planes of that day.
It’s funny now to look back at those times. Most bookracks (even in 7-11’s) would have a history book or two, usually WW2 but even WW1 (if I were lucky). The library had a whole shelf of fabric fighter thrillers, and every two years we’d move – another library to loot! It seemed there was a constant awareness of that era in history.
And that’s what I realized this morning. You don’t really see books about The Great War anymore. I don’t see novels about biplanes. I don’t see history books about canvas falcons. It’s just an awareness, I suppose – perhaps there still are but when I browse the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble, they just aren’t there. Nobody seems to be writing tales of the times. What novels might be set in that era, it’s usually only background. What was once a dim memory of a terrible time just past has now sunk from cultural awareness. The world accelerates. The past fades.
Actually, I think it would amaze me now if something were to show up on the shelf, something about that time of wire-braced wings and chattering guns. I simply don’t see such a book coming out these days, in a world of internet and political infighting and global warming. So maybe I’ll holiday in some of my older books in the coming weeks, picking a biography or fast-paced aviation thriller out of my old shelves. It would be like going home, I suppose.
Watch for the review.